Over the years, my firm has acted for numerous frontline workers including nurses, police officers and paramedics who have suffered severe psychological trauma in the course of their work.
Recent amendments to the workers' compensation legislation in Queensland will significantly enhance the ability of these first responders to access benefits for work-related stress injuries.
These new laws provide a streamlined pathway for first responders who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to make a workers’ compensation claim.
It will apply to frontline officers and some other employees, including:
police, ambulance officers and firefighters;
doctors and nurses working in areas such as emergency and trauma care; and
members of the State Emergency Service, rural fire brigades and volunteer firefighters.
Due to the nature of the work they do, first responders who are diagnosed with PTSD will be considered to have a work-related injury unless there is evidence to the contrary.
In other words, the PTSD is deemed to be work-related unless there is compelling medical evidence to show that it arose in some other manner such as an off-duty motor vehicle accident or an assault outside of work.
The new laws will also limit the need to discuss the incident that caused their PTSD or recount past traumatic incidents they have endured throughout their careers.
The new pathway applies to eligible employees who lodge a valid workers’ compensation claim on or after 20 May, 2021.
If you or someone you know requires legal advice about the new pathways or the ability to seek common law damages for PTSD, we have experienced lawyers who can help with those inquiries.